The 1Berkshire Youth Leadership Program (YLP) is a 10-month long program committed to introducing a group of high school juniors from across the county to leadership skill development, career opportunities, and collective impact work here in the Berkshires. The Youth Leadership Program is currently in its ninth year. The 2019 YLP participants come together monthly from every corner of the region to a new location each time where they engage with regional industry leaders, elected officials, and YLP volunteer steering committee members to learn, reflect, and act as a group.
Each year, the YLP class kicks off their 10 months together by formulating a plan to execute a project with the broad goal of making a positive impact on the Berkshires. The projects have taken a variety of shapes over time, from digital opportunities for engagement to fundraisers for local causes. This year, however, the YLP Class of 2019 has fully immersed themselves in helping to engage members from across the region in thinking and acting in an increasingly sustainable and environmentally-conscientious manner.
Partnering with the Alchemy Initiative, this year’s YLP class will be holding a Sustainability Fair at the April Farmers Market in Pittsfield. With games for youth and adults alike and numerous activities to enjoy and learn from, the YLP participants look to offer fun ways to learn and take action in their own lives. With a focus covering everything from recycling and reuse to composting and public transportation, this year’s YLP class is going all in on sustainable action. “Our group has a strong level of advocacy for the environment,” noted Alyssa Anderson, a member of the 2019 class, “We came together to start an event while promoting both sustainability and the merging of teenagers from other areas in the county.”
To fund their event, the group of motivated juniors has initiated a number of fundraising efforts, primarily focused on a collective group bottle and can drive. Partnering with Berkshire Wine and Liquor in Pittsfield, the students spent 3 hours holding their full group fundraiser on January 5th, raising a total of $196 dollars for their efforts. With the resources they’ve gathered, they look forward to putting on a great event in the spring. Additionally, any funds remaining after the event itself were voted by the students to be contributed to Berkshire Children and Families. As another member of the YLP class of 2019, Avery Price noted “By working together we want to help increase knowledge upon the need for change to strengthen our environmental prosperity for future generations,” and that’s just what they’ve set out to do.